Subhash Chandra-led Essel Group’s decision to buy 12.27% in Reddys-controlled IVRCL has sparked speculation of a possible hostile takeover bid for the Hyderabad-based construction firm. In the past, corporate raiders in India have rarely succeeded in taking over their targets, mainly due to cultural and political issues. In some cases, the bidders chose to cash out for a handsome profit, which seems to have been the primary motive rather than management control.
We look at some of the hostile takeover bids that made headlines over the last couple of decades.
Swraj Paul vs Escorts, DCM Shriram
In the early-80s, UK-based NRI business magnate, Swraj Paul made a hostile bid for Indian companies Escorts and DCM Shriram, but had to eventually backtrack in the face of political opposition.
Reliance Industries vs Larsen Toubro
Initially roped in as a white knight in the late 80s, Reliance Industries tried to take control of L T, but had to retreat after financial institutions withdrew support. The development coincided with Congress losing power at the Centre.
BAT vs ITC
In the mid-90s, global tobacco major BAT tried to take control of ITC, in which it already owned a stake. Here too, political opposition and regulatory hurdles forced BAT to give up its ambitious plan to strengthen its presence in India.
Financial institutions vs Modi Rubber
In 1998, financial institutions threatened to sell their holdings in Modi Rubber to any interested buyer, for non-repayment of loans. Brothers BK Modi and VK Modi averted a hostile takeover by repaying the loans, and later buying out the FIs stake.
ICI vs Asian Paints
In 1997, the Indian arm of UK-based paint major ICI bought 9.1% in Asian Paints from investment bank Kotak Mahindra. However, the FIPB refused to approve the deal, forcing ICI to sell the stake.
India Cements vs Raasi Cements
In possibly the only case of a successful hostile takeover in corporate India, Tamil Nadu-based India Cements bought out Hyderabad-based Raasi Cements in 1998 after winning over key shareholders—public as well as some members of the promoter group.
Arun Bajoria vs Bombay Dyeing
In 2000, Kolkatta-based Arun Bajoria bought 15% in Bombay Dyeing, and threatened to make an open offer to public shareholders. He finally sold out his stake to the Wadias– the promoters of Bombay Dyeing–at a profit.
Abhishek Dalmia vs GESCO
In 2000, Abhishek Dalmia cornered 10.5% in the Sheths-controlled GESCO Corp and made an open offer for another 20%. But rather than dislodging the existing promoters, Dalmia sold his stake to them for a profit of Rs 9 crore.
RK Damani vs VST Industries
In 2001, stockbroker Radhakishen Damani made an open offer for BAT-controlled VST Industries, but was foiled by ITC which entered the fray as a white knight, with support from BAT. Damani still holds 26% in VST.
Harish Bhasin vs DCM Shriram Industries
In 2007, stock broker Harish Bhasin bought 25% in DCM Shriram Industries through a combination of open market purchases and an open offer. But the promoters countered the move by issuing warrants to themselves and increasing their stake.
ITC vs EIH
In 2010, Reliance Industries played white knight to the promoters of EIH by buying 14.1% in the flagship hotel chain. The move was seen as an attempt to thwart the ITC group which had gradually raised its stake in EIH to 14.8% over the years.
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